William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

That IQ And Atheism Study

A lovely, but not at all unexpected conceit, held firmly by a certain sort of atheist, is that he has based his non-belief on his superior intelligence. He quotes, “A fool says in his heart there is a God.” He reads only those sources which confirm and conform to his view and eschews those which do not. And he isn’t shy about telling you how dumb it is not to believe as he does.

But consider: nearly all the greatest, best, highest, most beautiful minds that ever existed were theists. Aristotle anybody? Newton? Bach? Confucius? Meiji? The list is endless. Why, even Barack Obama is one. Of course, most people were and still are theists of one sort or another. It is only in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries where atheism picked up steam. Why?

Perhaps because these are also the times of high conceit. Many people, especially professionals and scientists, feel like all of history has led to them, the most intelligent cohort ever, the near pinnacle of humanity, and that by definition to be intelligent is to claim non-theism. It is only “near,” incidentally, because these folks claim not to be at but to see the peak; it is not too far off, and it is free of theism. At least the sort of theism which includes restrictions on behavior.

But never mind. If one is to study the association between intelligence and religious belief it is clear that one must account for history. The year 1928 is not the same as 1978 particularly in countries like Vietnam, where in 1928 many theists lived, but where in 1978 they have mostly disappeared. This is if we define theist as one who publicly checks “Believer” on a survey, a survey the government would soon learn about. A government which would in 1978 not take it kindly to discover it had a believer in its midst.

The year 1928 was not picked arbitrarily, but was the time of the first study in the dataset reanalyzed (for the umpteenth time) by Miron Zuckerman, Jordan Silberman, and Judith Hall in their “The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations” in Personality and Social Psychology Review. Zuckerman et alia don’t recognize history as much as do Richard Lynn, John Harvey, and Helmuth Nyborg in their original analysis (data here). In their “Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations” in Intelligence, they say:

Two of the most anomalous are Cuba and Vietnam, which have higher percentages disbelieving in God (40% and 81%, respectively) than would be expected from their IQs of 85 and 94 (respectively). This is likely attributable to these being former or current communist countries in which there has been strong atheistic propaganda against religious belief. In addition, it has sometimes been suggested that communism is itself a form of religion in which Das Capital is the sacred text, Lenin was the Messiah who came to bring heaven on earth, while Stalin, Mao, Castro and others have been his disciples who have came to spread the message in various countries.

Too bad they still used the data in their analysis. But then so did Zuckerman. Hey: why not?

Here’s the picture of the data (the news media and Wikipedia have this backwards; the authors call atheism “non-religiosity”, a category which is fuzzy and which probably includes some theists, of a sort):

Who woulda thunk it?

Who woulda thunk it?

Accepting the data as is, a tremendous mistake, we learn that for IQs around 100, percent atheism runs from near 0% to over 80%. Meaning, of course, IQ has little to say about percent atheism when IQs are around 100, which is defined as the mean. The USA, incidentally, has IQ 98.5 and percent atheism 10.5%.

The bottom IQs, and also lowest percent atheists, belong to Cameroon, Central African Rep, Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Haiti, Liberia. You get the idea; many from the 1960s and 1970s, some earlier. Fair to compare Africa to modern Europe?

Zuckerman cobbled together over sixty studies. Their Table 1 shows that the mechanism to measure IQ was different in different locations. The proportion of males varied from unknown, to low, to 100%. The measures of religiosity differed at different locations. Religions were also hugely different (is it the same to believe in animism as Protestant Christianity?). The samples, particularly in developed countries, were college kids, but elsewhere more non-college and precollege people were used. The lowest sample size was 22, but most were a hundred or so, with one topping out at over 14 thousand. And we already mentioned the widely disparate years the samples were taken.

Data of every flavor was observed, data that should not be mixed without an idea of how to combine the uncertainty inherent in each study and in how, say, kinds of IQ measurements maps to other kinds of IQ measurements. In other words, data which should not be mixed, because nobody has any idea how to make these corrections.

But suppose somebody did know how. Then what? What could we possibly learn? Nothing. Or nothing of any use, except perhaps the extent which enculturation works (to convert people to atheism and theism). Look: we have already agreed that many people much smarter than us have been theists, but we also know that some clever folks have been non-theists. If we’re after raw body counts, the theists win handily.

Just because a person is or isn’t intelligent contributes nothing, not a thing, to the truth or falsity of any proposition (not related to the individual). Does God exist because Aristotle, perhaps the greatest intelligence of all, said so? Of course not. Is relativity true because Einstein, no small brain, thought it up? Again no. If it were true that merely being intelligent conferred truth then we would never have political disagreements, because all we’d have to do is given everybody an IQ test and put whoever scored highest in charge.

Except that highly intelligent people believe stupid and false things. And at a rate too depressing to contemplate.


Update. This makes more news.

41 Comments

  1. I agree, this is a sort of embarrassing argument that I hear often among atheists but, to be fair, falling in the ecological fallacy trap is easy… especially when the trap tastes like honey.

  2. Over all I like this article, but there are parts that I don’t like.

    Quote: “But consider: nearly all the greatest, best, highest, most beautiful minds that ever existed were theists. Aristotle anybody? Newton? Bach? Confucius? Meiji? The list is endless.”

    This list can easily be balanced by, for example, Socrates, Laplace, Darwin, Einstein, and Dirac. And to nitpick, how could the list possibly be endless? I also like this Pauli quote about Dirac.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Pauli

    Also many famous people of the past who we now consider to be religious were labeled as atheists by their contemporaries. In the past where it was dangerous to express any religious doubts or even to be anything but publicly devout (the appearance at least) it would be very difficult to determine anyone’s real beliefs. I suspect that most people throughout history gave religion little thought outside of the required public display necessary to avoid the fanatics.

    A moderate amount of religion may be beneficial with both its complete absence or excess leading to similar problems. By the way I will never state my own beliefs, so don’t ask.

  3. Scotian

    A moderate amount of religion may be beneficial with both its complete absence or excess leading to similar problems. By the way I will never state my own beliefs, so don’t ask.

    You just did! The first rule of the Fight club…

  4. Ye Olde Statistician

    13 August 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Socrates was executed by the enlightened Athenians not because he was an atheist in our modern sense, but because he denied the plurality of godlings in primitive Greek polytheism. However, he is quoted as referring to God, in the singular sense, many times.

    Laplace’s famous remark that he did not need the God Hypothesis to set up his System of the World is often misunderstood. It was simply economy of the equations. He didn’t need the Darwin Hypothesis, either; or the electromagentic hypothesis, etc. IOW, he was looking at the effect of gravitational attraction, full stop.

  5. Of course, the atheists would say that “as knowledge of the workings of nature has grown, the need for a God of the gaps has decreased to the point where, now, it is vanishingly small. We don’t need God to explain what we see and I’m extremely intelligent and in the best of positions to understand both this concept and what I see in nature.” As a theist, my response to that is “God exists or He does not. If he does, he has some attributes and does not have others. Our ‘need’ for Him or lack thereof with respect to explanations of the workings of nature is completely irrelevant.”

  6. Fran,

    You only think that because you have failed to read closely enough. It also fits in with my claim that determining the beliefs of others, especially of the past, is a mugs game. There is only the argument – right YOS?

  7. Amen?

    “Ever heard of Socrates? Plato? Aristotle?”

    (The Dread Pirate Roberts nods)

    “Morons.”

    This brings to mind my last extended face-to-face discussion of this sort, many years ago, wherein a man expounded such views at length (rather inappropriately, as he was a guest dominating discussion with a bunch of people who weren’t really interested). Not saying this is typical or not – have no way of knowing that – but it is representative of my tiny sample set. Every time I tried to simply throw a little sand in the gears, slow it down a little, he changed the subject. We bounced from trans-humanism to free will to AI and back around again like pin balls. What was remarkable was not so much how superficial and poor his arguments – such as they were – were, but rather how having somebody like me, who is not at least obviously stupid, push back even a little totally threw him off. It was if he had only previously argued with a mirror. (The hostess later thanked me for taking this guy off line – the party went on in other rooms. Me, I sorta enjoyed it.)

  8. Obama is an atheist. I have sources on this one. I couldnt agree more with the rest of the post though.

  9. Statistically speaking, overall summary statistics such as mean and correlation don’t say very little about an individual. For example, the fact that someone comes from a country with the highest average IQ tells you nothing about this person’s IQ. The IQ and religiosity of Einstein or Aristotle or a few other geniuses are not counter evidence to overall summary results.

    Whether it’s fair to compare Africa to modern Europe depends on what variables and information we have available. It’s possible that after controlling for education or other factors that religiosity would play no role in predicting the overall intelligence of a country. There might be other lurking variables and confounding variables.

    BTW, Confucius is a non-theist if I am to classify him.

  10. Correction:
    Statistically speaking, overall summary statistics such as mean and correlation don’t say very little about an individual.

  11. Geez, I was hoping to tune in & read something new, intelligent & inspiring…or at least cleverly & humorously written only to find the same ole warmed over theme from some 1700 years ago….some things never change…

    BRIGGS says: “But consider: nearly all the greatest, best, highest, most beautiful minds that ever existed were theists. Aristotle anybody? Newton? Bach? Confucius? Meiji? The list is endless. Why, even Barack Obama is one. Of course, most people were and still are theists of one sort or another.”

    That’s pretty much the exact same thing Porphyry (AD c. 234–c. 305)–a philosopher!! (we know how Briggs likes philosophy) — said:

    “How can these people be thought worthy of forbearance? They have not only turned away from those who from earliest time have been thought of as divine among all Greeks and barbarians… but by emperors, law-givers and philosophers— all of a given mind. But also, in choosing impieties and atheism, they have preferred their fellow creatures.”

    By the way, the current humanist(?) religion, Global Warming, applies the same belief criteria — consensus. That’s what that ancient argument, rehashed by Briggs, really is…consensus. But I digress…

    WHAT’s KINDA FUNNY, though, is that when Porphyry (and others at that time) referred to ‘atheists’ he was (they were) referring to the first Christians — who were the first “atheists” as they disbelieved all those other, pagan, gods.

    That was some heavy-duty disbelieving as, way back then, there were oodles(technical term) of gods to disbelieve in. Modern atheists only endeavor to disbelieve in one god, which is hardly so impressive.

  12. RE BRIGGS puzzlement: “It is only in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries where atheism picked up steam. Why?”

    Answer: Science (e.g.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science )

    As science resolved unknowns that once seemed mysterious & thus must have been under the control of some deity there was less need for, or room for, a god, or magic (the movie/TV series, Merlin, ended with much the same observation vis a vis magic/sorcery/witchcraft). Some accepted beliefs suffered catastrophically in response to scientific findings (for example, the belief the Earth was at the center of the universe; the documents for Galileo Gailei’s trial are interesting & available at: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/galileo.html ).

    Come to think of it, people have been grasping for evidence, signs & proofs, for quite a long time – clear evidence of “faith” like [Doubting] Thomas’s – believing comes from seeing & touching – and if there’s no evidence people are no making it up for themselves: http://creationmuseum.org/ logo “Creation Museum; Prepare to Believe” – concocted proof for those wanting to believe; and at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/ today’s banner is, “Evolution vs God; who’s winning?” – evolution is one ongoing series of scientific developments/findings that are nibbling away at the faith of many… And for those that just can’t escape the facts—what science presents—here’s a site that reconciles that as well: http://www.reasons.org/

    One Bible, one inerrant inspired Word of God and the lengths people are going to reconcile their diametrically opposed/mutually-exclusive interpretations in the face of what science reveals are truly fascinating.

    One very big and indisputable problem for believers is the steady progression of scientific findings, as the above illustrates.

    Not to mention the evidence of clear copycatting of the current biblical story from earlier pagan stories – while “The Church” did a pretty good job of destroying the documentary evidence, it missed some & actually created & preserved enough; that info wasn’t readily available or communicated until well past the 1950s, but is now readily available to anyone caring to look with an open mind…anyone truly interested in finding the truth, that is.

    Yes, recent history (last hundred years especially) has revealed much, via science, to the common-folk/masses, who are more educated than ever – it is NOT that “these are also the times of high conceit” that explains the growth of atheism* it’s simply that people overall are getting more information, they’re better informed, more knowledgeable. For some that’s conceit, for the vast majority facts clarify and reveal reality for what it really is.

    * Sure, there are enough conceited intellectuals out there & the internet, etc. makes it easy to hear/read from them – but that’s nothing compared to the conceit of social classes effectively constituting a stratified caste-like arrangement with “The Church” playing a sort of perpetual “corporate memory” role as kings & queens came & went. THAT was conceit if ever there was “conceit.”

  13. Ken on 13 August 2013 at 4:35 pm said:
    “Modern atheists only endeavor to disbelieve in one god, which is hardly so impressive.”

    I disagree. Modern atheists disbelieve in all gods. Theists (typically) disbelieve in all BUT one god.

    Theists and atheists both think critically about the gods and religions that they don’t believe in (Scientology, Heaven’s Gate, Mormonism…). They find the flaws that make the said religion quite unbelievable. When it comes to their own religion, theists just don’t do the same critical thinking.

    To Briggs:
    What caused the rise in the number of atheists?
    1) Science giving another possible explanation for things. E.g. evolution and DNA – evolution didn’t make god impossible, but it made “not-god” possible.
    2) The inquisition ended centuries ago. The inquisition made it a little awkward for atheists to “come out” as it were.

    For what it’s worth, both sides probably feel pretty marginalized at times. But, at least theists can become president of the USA. Admitted atheists couldn’t get voted in as the local county dog catcher.

  14. The proposed correlation between IQ and atheism only makes sense if there is some rational argument for the non-existence of God that would convince people if only they were smart enough. No such argument exists nor, in my opinion, can it. So any relationship between IQ and atheism if it exists is irrelevant and accidental. And this is also why really intelligent people can believe in God.

  15. Howard said:
    “When it comes to their own religion, theists just don’t do the same critical thinking.”

    So many words, so little learned substance.
    Howard, have you ever heard of Thomas Aquinas? He did a little critical thinking about his religion, and even wrote down some of his thoughts. Perhaps you could start with “Suma contra Gentiles.” From there move on to “Suma Theologica” They are available on the web for free. For any intelligent clear thinking atheist there is no excuse to not read them. Needless to say Richard Dawkins apparently only read a couple of pages of “Suma Theologica.”

  16. >> But consider: nearly all the greatest, best, highest, most beautiful minds that ever existed were theists. Aristotle anybody? Newton? Bach? Confucius? Meiji? The list is endless.

    Fun thing is, most of them are mens.
    Are women that stupid, then, or is there another explanation?

    I share your point of view, intelligence (or lack thereof) is not liked to religious beliefs. But this doesn’t excuse that kind of argument.
    Most of the “most famous minds in history” where men and Caucasians, what kind of conclusion should we get out of it?

  17. Ye Olde Statistician

    14 August 2013 at 9:52 am

    Catherine of Alexandria, Christine de Pisan, Teresa of Avila, Hildegarde of Bingen, Hroswitha of Gandersheim, Elisabeth Anscombe, … Women, of course, are well known to be more often religious than men; but until medieval Christendom they seldom had scope for intellectual pursuits.

    Ibn Rushd, ibn Sinna, al-Kindi, al-Ghazali, … The names are less familiar to us and therefore less persuasive.

    The religiosities of India and China are not well known to us and any citation of Confucious or, say, the Buddha will only open a cultural discussion on the equation of Indian Brahma or Chinese Tien with Abrahamic God. The same goes for philosophy smarts: philosophy as such was largely unknown outside the region influenced by Aristotle. (As was logic, Euclidean geometry, natural science, etc.) So how do we know who was Really Truly Smart?
    +++++++++++
    @Ken
    The main tenet of scientism — the down-in-the-bone belief that natural science is all she wrote — is well exemplified by your belief that theologians were “really” trying to do Science!™ — the same thing that alchemists, astrologers, and physicists were trying to do: discover (or simply to employ) the causes of natural phenomena. But the Christians, at least, had a different notion. Secondary causation meant that God had endowed matter with the power to act on its own natures directly. (cf. Augustine of Hippo, Thomas of Aquino, William of Conches, Albertus Magnus, Nicolas d’Oresme, et al.) It was al-Ghazali’s denial of this doctrine and his embrace of Humean voluntarism that torpedoes natural science in the House of Submission after a promising if unofficial start.

    Greek polytheism did try to do as you say. Poseidon was not an old man in a seaweed beard who lived under the sea and caused storms and earthquakes with his trident. Poseidon just was the sea and the sea was Poseidon. But it was precisely the incoherence of this worldview that led Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to dismiss the gods in favor of the God.
    ++++++++
    1) Science giving another possible explanation for things. E.g. evolution and DNA – evolution didn’t make god impossible, but it made “not-god” possible.

    The hammer and chisel does not make sculptors impossible, but it does make “not-sculptor” possible.
    +++++++++
    2) The inquisition ended centuries ago. The inquisition made it a little awkward for atheists to “come out” as it were.

    The Roman Inquisition and Venetian Inquisition had jurisdiction over Christian heretics. Pagans, Jews, muslims, et al. were outside its writ. Atheists were in more danger from peer pressure.

    The Spanish Inquisition, a creature of the Crown in Castile and the Crown in Aragon, was an instumentality of the Spanish State and conflated political loyalty with confessional conformity. In any case, its writ ran only within the borders of the Spanish Empire. There were large stretches of Europe — Poland, northern France and Germany, Scandinavia, England — that never saw an inquisitorial tribunal. Even in Spain, centuries might pass in some towns between circuit judges coming and setting up benches.

  18. Kristen inDallas

    14 August 2013 at 12:37 pm

    @ken. We are more informed… really? I think that all depends on what information you find valuable.
    Quick no internet – go draw a quick picture of what the night sky will look like tonight. Then go walk around in the closest wooded area to your house and determine which vegetation is edible (no smartphones). The ancients would laugh at how uninformed we are about the things right under our noses.
    We are only “more informed” if we go by the information possesed by society en masse, individual members are pretty clueless compared to ancient times (when almost all individuals at least knew how to feed themselves and build a basic shelter).

  19. Kristen inDallas

    14 August 2013 at 12:43 pm

    @ebausson
    You are so right – very intellegent women and minorities often get left off of those lists of great minds – usually because they lacked the power and status to have their thoughts published or let everyone know just how smart they were.
    But that said, women and racial minorities are also less likely to identify as atheists than white men. Which all sort of reinforces that idea for me that its not about intellegence so much as pride and power games.

  20. Ye Olde Statistician

    14 August 2013 at 12:59 pm

    And if one is going to rely on IQ tests….
    Women and men average the same (X=100iq) but there is a larger standard deviation among men. This means that proportionately more men are geniuses… and morons. Consequently, one finds more men than women among those in abstract fields. And among petty thieves, serial killers, and other low IQ pursuits

    IQ testing also shows minorities scoring ! std> dev. below the dominant culture in IQ; e.g., burkunin vs ippan in Japan highlander vs lowlander in Scotland etc

    If IQ tests are valid for this study they are valid for the above If not for the above then not for the religiosity “study”

  21. YOS

    Women and men average the same (X=100iq) but there is a larger standard deviation among men. This means that proportionately more men are geniuses… and morons.

    Long ago I did a study among students of the Faculty of Mathematics and Statistics in Barcelona where they would self-report their average grades.

    From 0 to 10 women where, on average, women were well above one point ahead of men… to my surprise since I was expecting the opposite (No woman has ever won the Field’s medal) but then I realized that variance among men was around twice as big as variance among women, then things fit into place.

  22. Hi Gene,

    “So many words, so little learned substance.” Fair enough, although I’ve heard of Thomas Aquinas, I’ve not read any of his works. I’ve heard a little of what he’s written, but that’s second hand so let’s just count that as NO.

    Is this the complete Book One? http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles1.htm

    Putting the shoe on the other foot…

    I’d like to know if this means that you’ve read the Book of Mormon, and the works of L. Ron Hubbard so that you can dismiss these religions, or are you a believer (or at least a non-disbeliever) in Mormonism and Scientology?

    Just wondering if you go to the same lengths for other religions as you’d ask others to do for yours.

  23. There is no evidence that God exists.

  24. Ye Olde Statistician

    14 August 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Sure there is JimS, but that’s not what this thread is about. It is the ‘Appeal to IQ’ by people who in other contexts would reject the very value of IQ tests, using a fairly bogus scientificalistic ‘correlation’ that boils down to a self-congratulatory ‘boy-ain’t-we-smart’ high fiver.

  25. When I first read about this study, I knew you would write about it. That must mean I’m a genius. But of course I am. I’m a atheist! :)

  26. Ye Olde Statistician on 14 August 2013 at 9:52 am said:

    +++++++++++
    The hammer and chisel does not make sculptors impossible, but it does make “not-sculptor” possible.

    Huh? Could you try this rebuttal again? I’m of little learned substance.

    I think it would be better said that sculptures are proof of the existence of god. But the existence of hammers and chisels make the the non-god sculpture possible. Maybe that’s not hat you meant, but I need help understanding what you were getting at.

    +++++++++++
    Re: the limited efficacy of the Spanish Iquisition. Fair enough that people only received “the ultimate discrimination” in Spain from 1478 to 1834, but atheists have been discriminated against through time. Gene’s buddy Thomas Aquinas has said “The sin of unbelief is greater than any sin that occurs in the perversion of morals,” and that heretics “be exterminated from the world by death”. This seems a bit harsh to me just for questioning “blind faith” (TM).
    Blasphemy laws through the 1800′s have resulted in 61 people going to jail in Britain, and people going to trial in the US in the same century.
    “Coming out” as an atheist is not typically a good career move (especially in 13th to 17th century Spain as we both agree). As an atheist you’re often better off being vague about where you stand and changing the topic of conversation as quickly as possible.

  27. Ye Olde Statistician on 14 August 2013 at 10:04 pm said:

    that’s not what this thread is about. It is the ‘Appeal to IQ’ by people who in other contexts would reject the very value of IQ tests, using a fairly bogus scientificalistic ‘correlation’ that boils down to a self-congratulatory ‘boy-ain’t-we-smart’ high fiver.
    +++++++++++++++++
    Sorry about my previous comments. I didn’t mean to be a thread hijacker.

    Thanks or the replies all the same.

    HB

  28. Howard,

    Heretics are those who preach false (according to the religious authorities) teachings about their religion. Heretics are by definition not atheists, so the second half of your Thomas Aquinas quote does nothing for your argument.

    I will grant you that atheists have been discriminated against throughout history, but that isn’t relevant to the topic at hand which is an alleged connection between IQ and atheism.

  29. Ye Olde Statistician

    15 August 2013 at 12:17 am

    Huh? Could you try this rebuttal again?

    You had said that ‘evolution didn’t make god impossible, but it made “not-god” possible.’ But ‘evolution’ is causal in an instrumental sense, just as a hammer and chisel are instrumentally causal. Proving the existence of an instrument does not make the user any less possible. It would be like saying pottery is completely explained by the thermal profile of the kiln and therefore the lack of a potter is rendered more possible, or internet data packet protocols make ‘not-howard’ more possible.
    ================
    It is always hazardous to proof-text Thomas Aquinas, since passages in 13th cent. Latin may not mean what 21st cent. Anglophones think. Before resorting to the methods of fundamentalists, ask yourself what Thomas meant by infidelis. Given that it included heretics, Jews, heathens, pagans, etc., it certainly meant something other than atheists.

    It is also good to ask in what manner he meant that one sin was greater than another — hint, he did not regard this as a one-dimensional thing — and in what sense the term ‘sin’ was meant. He very typically draws important distinctions which must be grasped by reading the entirety of the material and not simply a proof-text, especially a proof-text pulled out of its context by a tendentious website. For example, in that same Quaestio, Thomas notes that for one who is an unbeliever ‘merely because he has not the faith,’ unbelief is not a sin but a punishment. [For a secular analogy, one who has never bothered to learn biology suffers the punishment of ignorance, but does not actively commit an error.] This is in contrast to the second kind of unbelief, which may be taken ‘by way of opposition to the faith,’ such as one who attacks the faith and openly despises it. ‘It is in this sense that unbelief is a sin.’ [In the analogy, imagine one who is not merely ignorant of biology, but persistently attacks 'evil-ution.']

    You can find the whole discussion here –
    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3010.htm which you may compare for accuracy –
    http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/sth3001.html by scrolling to Quaestio 10.
    ===========
    [Death] seems a bit harsh to me just for questioning “blind faith”

    Faith is not supposed to be blind, but guided by reason, and heresy was more than just ‘questioning.’ It often involved a great deal more woo-woo than orthodoxy. In particular, it often involved treason to the State, which is why the death penalty was a secular punishment. It is also why the Church inserted a judicial proceeding, the inquisitio, between the accused and the prince to forestall precipitous action by secular authorities. The Church’s approach, as Thomas says in the very same Quaestio you quoted, was to ‘look to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but “after the first and second admonition,” as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death.’ IOW, you really had to try hard to merit the death penalty, pretty much by a third conviction after the first and second admonition. Basically, you had to be a danger to the spiritual health of others. Thomas makes the comparison to counterfeiters, who were also executed in that era.

    Hope this helps.

  30. Ye Olde Statistician on 14 August 2013 at 10:04 pm said:

    “Sure there is Jim…”

    lol

  31. Ye Olde Statistician

    15 August 2013 at 10:49 am

    @JimS
    Depends on what you mean by ‘evidence,’ I guess. Where do you stand on the existence of such things as ‘dog’ or ‘three’ or conjoining topologies? We can work ourselves up to Truth and Beauty.

  32. @ Ye Olde
    Your rather flippant “Sure there is” implies that the evidence is so obvious that its not even really worth discussing. Your next response appears that you want to engage in some epistemic game defining what “evidence” means. That’s a rather pointless, academic exercise.

    I would imagine that the overwhelming majority of theologians would have absolutely no problem with my statement that there is “no evidence that God exits”, and would agree with me.

  33. @Kristen inDallas: “We are only “more informed” if we go by the information possesed by society en masse, individual members are pretty clueless compared to ancient times (when almost all individuals at least knew how to feed themselves and build a basic shelter.”

    I’ll Stand by the remarks; we are more informed than ever. As recently as when Thomas Jefferson was President of the US (POTUS) one single person could still, conceivably, own enough books & be studied enough to know everything everyone & anyone anywhere might know. That’s what “they” say when taking a tour of Monticello anyway….

    So, sure, any particular person might not know much…but…when a topic arises any person has easy means of consulting an expert–the information available is unprecedented.

    AND, as Howard noted, ‘Science gives another possible explanation for things. … for various topics it has made the conclusion “not-god” possible.’ For many people, the amount now left after so many “it’s not-god after alls” have been revealed is enough to conclude, “no god.” Other completely independent perspectives only reinforce that.

  34. Ye Olde Statistician

    15 August 2013 at 3:34 pm

    no epistemic game, JimS. But it did occur to me afterward that you might have a particular notion of ‘evidence.’ Otherwise, the apparent existence of an objective universe, rationally ordered, and accessible to human understanding would serve for some as a kind of evidence.

  35. “….the apparent existence of an objective universe, rationally ordered, and accessible to human understanding would serve for some as a kind of evidence.”

    No, it would not.

    And why all this concern with evidence? After all, isn’t faith (which is the bedrock of religion)the belief in God in the ABSENCE of evidence? If evidence exists, who needs faith?

    And does this so called evidence lead you to believe in The Christian God ? Why not Ra, the ancient sun god of the Egyptians? Or any of the other millions of gods that have been posited since the beginning of time?

    Seriously, why this insistence that there is evidence for the existence of God? Sounds like a bit of doubt to this atheist….

  36. Ye Olde Statistician

    16 August 2013 at 1:50 pm

    “….the apparent existence of an objective universe, rationally ordered, and accessible to human understanding would serve for some as a kind of evidence.”

    JimS — No, it would not.

    See? That’s why I wondered what you would accept as evidence. That’s because a fact has no value in itself. One fellow looks at an iridium-rich strata and sees evidence of a giant asteroid strike. Another sees evidence in the self-same iridium of the eruption of the Deccan Traps. Einstein regarded the rational order of the universe as simply a miracle, sui generis as it were. Others, as evidence of an ordering intelligence. Still others as not evidence as all, but only background accepted without thought. Still others as an order imposed on the universe by human thought.

    isn’t faith (which is the bedrock of religion)the belief in God in the ABSENCE of evidence? If evidence exists, who needs faith?

    Again, it depends on what you mean by ‘evidence.’ What is the evidence for the irrationality of pi? ‘Faith’ – fides – is the Latin word for triewð – trust – and regards something on which one can rely. The related word treowe means ‘true’, which is why a man and woman who are ‘betrothed’ – be-truthed – pledge to be ‘true’ – ‘faithful’ – to each other. Which is why someone once said that believing is falling in love. (Be- is the old intensifier, like ge- in German and be-lief is be-love, ‘to love greatly.’)

    And does this so called evidence lead you to believe in The Christian God ? Why not Ra, the ancient sun god of the Egyptians? Or any of the other millions of gods that have been posited since the beginning of time?

    Because none of them were posited as primary actualizer, primary cause, ground of being, etc. Many of them were supposed to have come into existence from elder gods and some, like the Norse, were to pass out of existence, too. Such beings cannot be the source of existence, since they themselves were given existence. Nor were they regarded as singular, transcendent, full of all powers, etc. Granted, Aristotle knew nothing about the Christian God, and ibn Sinna and Maimonides had a muslim and Jewish perspective on matters, but all of them had a handle on the same kind of being. From the existence of Primary Cause, Pure Act, Subsistent Being and the like, one may deduce further properties – singularity, simplicity, transcendence, eternal, all-power full, etc.

    Seriously, why this insistence that there is evidence for the existence of God?

    You asked.

  37. Ye Olde Statistician on 15 August 2013 at 12:17 am said:

    Thanks for spelling it out for me and keeping it civil. You completely lost me the first go around with the hammer and chisel.

    I think that science does a much better job at explaining the natural and physical world than church teachings or the bible. I don’t have a mathematical background, but I would expect that if we were using the bible as a model most people would say that it has little predictive “skill” in explaining the natural world (I’m not sure if I’m stating this correctly).

    Historically, the church would have the sun and the planets circling the earth. Using observations and interpretations that were opposed to the teachings of the church, Copernicus and, later, Galileo came up with the heliocentric model of the solar system. The scientific method would correctly have the earth and the planets in their elliptical orbits around the sun. It’s so accurate that we can fling satellites into space to photograph the farthest reaches of our solar system.

    Another example is the age of the earth. Most people today accept that the earth is about 4.6 billion years old. We can understand this through dating zircons and radioactive decay. There are still a few people who hang on to the idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old, but if that’s the case we have to come up with a whole new system to explain radioactive half-lives.

    I think that evolution will, in time, be universally accepted just like the heliocentric model. We can track mitochondrial DNA back 200,000 years, and there is ongoing work on Neanderthal DNA that suggests that there was inbreeding between them and Homo sapiens about 38,000 years ago. Historically, religion has claimed that god has created everything, but that’s at odds with evolution.

    On one hand we have the story from the church about god creating Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago with the sun circling the earth. The scientific version of this has a proto-earth orbiting the sun 4.6 billion years ago with organisms evolving over geologic time to where we are now.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    It is always hazardous…

    I should never have used someone else’s quote of a book written in Latin from the thirteenth century. That was foolish.

    Thanks for clarifying that infidelis is one big happy family of atheists, pagans, Jews etc. There is some “interpretation” around unbelief and sin. From http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3010.htm :

    Reply to Objection 3. Unbelief, in so far as it is a sin, arises from pride, through which man is unwilling to subject his intellect to the rules of faith, and to the sound interpretation of the Fathers.

    This version does seem suggest that unbelievers are sinners, although it may be attributed more to pride than the actual unbelief. The last half of that reply also does sound a bit like blind faith to me, but there are probably more interpretations of what “faith” is than there are religions.

    Thanks also for Q10. I almost fell off my chair laughing. There are efforts that I will make, but that’s not one.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    In particular, it often involved treason to the State, which is why the death penalty was a secular punishment.

    But wasn’t heresy treason? Da haereticis equates heresy to treason, so those who weren’t Christians would be punished by the state under secular laws. As you say you may have had to try pretty hard to get yourself burned at the stake, but the way to avoid this fate was to convert to Christianity. Failing that you lost all of your possessions and were excommunicated as a first and second strike.
    There were a lot of people burned at the stake so maybe there were some more enthusiastic inquisitors that moved quite quickly to the third strike.

  38. Ye Olde Statistician

    17 August 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I think that science does a much better job at explaining the natural and physical world than church teachings or the bible.

    Of course. It is not the purpose of Christianity to explain the physical world. As St. Augustine of Hippo put it a millennium and a half ago:
    In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.”
    – Contra Faustum manichaeum

    ++++

    Historically, the church would have the sun and the planets circling the earth. Using observations and interpretations that were opposed to the teachings of the church, Copernicus and, later, Galileo came up with the heliocentric model of the solar system.

    Historically, the Church was indifferent. Thomas Aquinas wrote:
    The suppositions that these astronomers have invented need not necessarily be true; for perhaps the phenomena of the stars are explicable on some other plan not yet discovered by men. — De coelo, II, lect. 17
    and
    The theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them. — Summa theologica, I, q.32, a.1, ad. 2

    The scientific geocentric model was so well-established that the Church Fathers had read certain passages as being in concord with science, and this reading was of long standing. What the Church did object to (esp. during the Protestant Revolution) was solitary laymen reinterpreting scriptures on the basis of an unproven hypothesis. She had no objection to reinterpreting scriptures on the basis of something known to be true, as (again) Augustine has said in the long ago.

    Galileo did not develop a heliocentric model.

    The Copernican model failed because it did not predict astronomical events as well as did the Tychonic model. This was partly because, being a Renaissance Platonist dedicated to the pure Platonic circles, Copernicus (and Galileo like him) refused to consider ellipses tout court.

    The following article may be useful: http://www2.fiu.edu/~blissl/Flynngs.pdf
    ++++

    There are still a few people who hang on to the idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old

    True, but the Church is not one of them. “Bible chronology,” a favorite of Newton and the likes, is a modern phenomenon informed by science, although like astrology and phlogiston, it did have a number of positive influences. See here for example: http://thonyc.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/in-defence-of-the-indefensible/
    ++++

    I think that evolution will, in time, be universally accepted just like the heliocentric model.

    Indeed, as Augustine wrote:
    It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth. In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come.
    On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11

    and Thomas Aquinas put his oar in when he wrote:
    Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.
    – Summa theologica, Part I Q73 A1 reply3

  39. What about the possibility that the IQ tests are unfairly skewed in their direction? It has been suggested that the typical test (there are multiple types of IQ tests) gives boys an unfair advantage because of the types of questions being asked.

  40. Ye Olde Statistician

    18 August 2013 at 10:59 pm

    @Leah
    Unlikely, since males and females average about the same. Males are disproportionately represented in the very highest scores, but this is balanced by their over-representation in the very lowest scores. Hard to imagine a bias that would do both.

  41. It has come to my attention that atheism is an oxymoron. Seriously. Since all human beings are created in God’s image, the fact that atheists even exist as human beings is proof of the existence of God.

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